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Takahara-Dias is exactly what the Wahine need


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POSTED: Friday, May 29, 2009

Two words reminded me of where she came from.

"The ladies."

That's what Dana Takahara-Dias called the University of Hawaii women's basketball players at her announcement as their new coach yesterday. The political incorrectness police are surely all astir at that, which is quite ironic for reasons we'll get into later. But those who have followed the Wahine over the decades know it was a nod to Vince Goo, her coach at UH more than 20 years ago.

"The ladies" won a lot more than they lost, they nearly all graduated, and there wasn't a cloud over them—except at tournament selection time, when it always seemed the NCAA sent them to the regional from hell or ignored them altogether.

Other than that, mostly good times under Goo. Little of the angst of the past few years under Jim Bolla, no accusations of mistreatment, no lawsuits.

The hiring of Takahara-Dias is outrageous in the pure basketball sense, as the other finalists all possess more experience. Critics are tired of UH letting first-time college head coaches learn on the job here.

But other reasons make her the right person for this job at this time.

She's the city and county's director of customer service. That makes her the ultimate people person, and that's what this program needs now after all the turmoil. It needs someone to heal the team, and bang the drum and convince people to spend a few dollars and a couple of hours on a women's basketball game.

She has succeeded at everything she's done professionally. Coach and athletic director at Moanalua High School, parks and recreation administrator.

And, she's a she. It's way past time that a woman is head coach of one of the big three female sports at Manoa. That she played on the team makes it even better.

So, although she refers to the players as ladies (which is part of the nickname of basketball teams all over the state and country), there's a strong element of political correctness in all of this—not to mention politics, period.

Takahara-Dias is widely known as a political ally of Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Hannemann said earlier this week that he supports her, but that he did not do anything to help her get the job.

"I have never lobbied for Dana," Hannemann said. "Do I think she's an excellent coach? Absolutely. Am I out there lobbying? No."

Whether he did or didn't doesn't matter to me, because I do believe this is the right move. Perhaps not the best basketball coach available, but the right fit overall. She's already surrounding herself with former assistants who will help her bring back the Goo culture: Da Houl and Serenda Valdez.

Can she recruit? Securing mainland talent may be difficult early on. But the local high school players are getting better, and Takahara-Dias should keep a bigger share of them than did Bolla. She's from where they are from and she'll be selling them on what she bought.

We're told she can be tough when necessary, but we're also fairly certain Takahara-Dias will treat the ladies like, well, ladies.

"Happy players," Goo said. "Happy players, and the wins will come."

And sometimes, believe it or not, political correctness is just plain correct.


Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his "Quick Reads" blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.